Nevermind the house...how do you keep your car clean! - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-05-2010, 05:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You leave the house with one, maybe two, trips to the car and you return home needing seventeen trips to unload the car -- not to mention the crumbs, the random piles of whatever that have accumulated under the seats and I think that's milk sprayed on the side of my rear passenger door.

What tricks do you have to keep your car clean!? (Sidenote--I don't have a partner so tag-teaming it isn't an option for me!)
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Old 03-05-2010, 05:32 AM
 
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I keep a big laundry basket in my car trunk. And a couple of big IKEA bags to haul stuff in, too.

For the other stuff, go to the car wash and use their vacuums while everyone is still strapped in to the cars. Bring several damp washcloths. Hand one to everyone and tell them to wash what they can reach.

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Old 03-05-2010, 01:01 PM
 
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No idea - mine's currently a mess cause I can't handle bending down to pick up all the junk (being 9 mo pregnant). I need tips too.

In the passenger seat, I tend to try to keep a grocery bag that I fill up with MY junk, at least, for easier bringing inside. Right now the back seats and trunk are real bad, though. On the plus side, during warm weather, dd loves helping clean out and wash the car - so there's hope when the seasons change.
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Old 03-05-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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No idea - I can keep the house clean but the car? Forget it.

mama of DS(3) & DD(2)
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:40 PM
 
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No idea - I can keep the house clean but the car? Forget it.
ditto

It is supposed to be nice outside this weekend, plan is to clean and vacumn car.

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Old 03-05-2010, 02:52 PM
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I keep a trash bag in the car (you know, a re-used plastic grocery bag or something) for the random wrappers and stuff. Once I started only bringing drinks with me -instead of stopping to get water/coffee/juice- that helped cut down on food/drink messes. sometimes, i might have 2 full bags, but at least the mess is contained! when i break down and bring the bags to the can, that helps tremendously!

I love the idea of the laundry basket- my mom uses milk crates. same idea.

Also, I insist that what comes into the car with a person leaves with that person. I imagine that's harder with little kids who dont exactly have the ability to do that... but, maybe a collapsible market basket, or even one of those pop-up laundry hampers might help to toss everything in on Friday afternoons and bring it all inside and sort there? you could keep the bag in the car, and use it as necessary, storing it under a seat. Just one day a week might help control clutter, and then maybe an old school dust buster (battery powered) to spot clean as needed (or on Sat morning)?


Now the outside of the car- filthy. every time i wash it, it snows. no more washing, no more snow! (but really dirty, sad looking car. )

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Old 03-05-2010, 03:30 PM
 
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We have a rule of no toys in the car for regular trips. If it was a long trip somewhere, I'd pack a small bag of toys I guess. This helps cut down on lost toys and clutter getting left in the car. We don't typically get things to eat when we are out because of dietary issues, but on occasion we might get water or a tea. We also typically bring fruit for snacks for the kids in the car if we will be gone for a bit.

The kids are responsible for making sure that the core/peel ends up in the compost and any trash in the can as we get out of the car. On occasion if it is raining or whatever, I'll just put items for trash/compost on the top of the diaper bag as I take it in the house and deal with them myself. If we buy stuff while we are out, we make sure to bring ALL of it in. So really there isn't anything left in the car, except for a bin in the trunk with emergency supplies.

As for vacuuming and washing, I majorly suck at that lately. Usually I stick to going to the local car wash that recycles their water because I am terrible at handwashing. Then I vacuum it while the kids are still in their carseats. Usually once a year I do a deep clean and we take all the seats and carseats and wipe everything down. The kids have been in the mud a lot recently and it really NEEDS that lol!

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Old 03-05-2010, 04:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Kinguk View Post
You leave the house with one, maybe two, trips to the car and you return home needing seventeen trips to unload the car -- not to mention the crumbs, the random piles of whatever that have accumulated under the seats and I think that's milk sprayed on the side of my rear passenger door.

What tricks do you have to keep your car clean!? (Sidenote--I don't have a partner so tag-teaming it isn't an option for me!)
No food or drink in the car. That has been the biggest help for us. On long trips, we make exceptions with water in water bottles and non-messy snacks only.

Also no writing/drawing/art supplies in the car. No crayons, stickers, etc. Too easy to mess up the inside of the car with them.

So really the only trash is kleenex and little scraps of whatever. I go through and collect trash/recycling and stuff to put away with a bag when it seems to need it, maybe once a week? And at that time I collect all the stray jackets, mittens, socks, shoes, library books, etc.

I only vacuum it about once a year.

Oh, each bench (backseat/middle seat) has a container for books, We rotate the books periodically. And each kid has a canvas tote with their name on it, so if they bring something into the car, they bring it in their bag, and it comes back in the house with them in their bag. I am not making that up, though I can see how it wouldn't work for some kids.

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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Old 03-05-2010, 06:25 PM
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i'm a minimalist for the car too. honestly.

i carry the baby and a single bag out to the car. that bag has whatever i need while i'm out (even though we no longer have a car, it is the same situation, though today/tomorrow we are downsizing to one pack that carrie both baby and stuff).

behind the drivers seat, i had a container that held a few car toys and an "emergency" baby kit (extra outfit and diapers) and i would put my bag next to it. I would then pull down the cup holder and put a piece of fruit and the baby's water bottle. He would be in the car seat, and I would hand him a car toy.

when we would arrive at our location, i would take a moment to clean up the car. any mess i would simply clean up quickly while DS was still in his car seat. usually, there wasn't much of a mess. i had a small trash bag in the car that i would use for this purpose.

every time i took him out of his seat, i would put the car toy back in the container. i would wrap him, and then grab the bag. if it was only a short walk (from car to store for example where he would ride in a cart), then i would carry him in arms and carry my bag.

unless i was running some kind of errand where i was purchasing something, i wouldn't bring back any more than i took out.

we would wash the car every other week, which included vacuuming and also wiping down/dusting the inside.
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Old 03-05-2010, 06:27 PM
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right, in our car, we also only had "non-messy" snacks such as trail mix (nuts and dried fruit) and water in water bottles (ours were metal, reusable, and we have one each).

it makes a huge difference not having messy things in the car. usually, we only had to take out small bits of paper, too. and just dirt from our shoes that came in throughout the days.
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Old 03-05-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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The toy we do in the car is a magna doodle type of thing with an attached pen (no magnets). Those aren't very cluttery.

I guess I could live with not letting them bring other toys or things in the car! I mean I never had anything like that growing up, I just amused myself by looking out the window.

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Old 03-06-2010, 12:20 PM
 
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We sold it! Problem solved!
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:02 PM
 
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I keep a trunk organizer in the trunk to hold grocery bags, emergency road side kit, first aid kit, fix-a-flat, extra oil, a few spare diaper changes, and some bottled water. Other than that, I prefer everything get cleaned out. I have the kids bring in whatever they brought into the car with them (backpacks, toys, etc).

I still need to do a deep cleaning every once in a while. I do it more often during the warmer months.

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Old 03-06-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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I do allow thermoses and snacks in the car, and since my son and I are allergic to everything, I keep a lidded plastic box in the trunk with snacks. I also let my kids (who are older, 8 and 6), take whatever toys they want, but they have to take them back in the house at the end of the trip. I actually keep a ton of things in my car, but you can't tell. Extra clothes, emergency supplies, wipes, emergency toy stash, medical kit, etc. are all stored in fabric bags and stashed in the nooks of the car or hang from hooks in the trunk (I have a Honda CRV). I made a fabric trash bag that hangs between the front passengers, so I can wash it when needed. Every Friday I try to make sure the car is clutter free and the trash bag emptied, and do a quick sweep with the shop vac (although I haven't been very good about the vac lately!)
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Old 03-06-2010, 04:25 PM
 
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I only have one child and she's 2.5. I take full responsibility for my messy car! My life has been very cluttered lately so naturally it has poured into my car. My wonderful bro-in-law has taken my car twice to clean it out (he details cars and always brings it back so shiny!)

I'm always rushed when getting in and out of my car and have the school bag, daycare bag, snacks, etc --as well I do my homework in the car while she naps. My car is very lived in and it all just starts to spread throughout.

Also, I am so bad at handing her back snacks and not worring about where all the crumbs end up -- I purged my car yesterday and found a half eaten muffin hard as a rock...

My car was spotless 2 months ago but got broken into. 4 bags for the thrift store were thrown all over my car and I just shoved it all into the back and that's where it stayed until yesterday!

Thanks for all the tips! I'm excited to keep my car shiny and organized!
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Old 03-06-2010, 08:11 PM
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ah, there's the issue--time.

essentially, you have to change your time/expectation ratios.

at this point, you expect it to take to get out the door is not the time it takes. it feels rushed, and overwhelming and leads to snap (and therefore often poor) decisions (such as DD's snacks) that have outcomes that you're not considering when you make that decision (messy car).

this means that you need to change expectations, and with that, you will allow yourself time to do the things that you need to do to effectively get out the door and effectively maintain your car, your schedule for yourself and your daughter.

in our household, my DH and I could get out the door in 30 minutes. I am usually ready in 15 because i am more organized than my husband.

when we had the baby, i added 30 minutes of time to our morning. DH would take his normal 30 minutes, and i would use that time to get the baby ready. this meant that i got up 15 minutes earlier to get myself ready. then, we were ready to leave at the same time as before, and there was no rush.

it also helps for me to think about my values.

i value a clean car;
i value getting out on time;
i value being clean, dressed, organized, and so on;
i value my son not feeling stressed;
i value not feeling stressed myself;
etc.

when you know your values, it's easy to align with them.

so, say you value your car not being messy. what sorts of things can you do to support those values?

one is to assert certain behavior such as no messy snacks in the car. another is to organize what you do in the car in a way that makes sense. for example, when i was in law school, my car was my "mobile office." in the trunk, i kept a bin that had all of my books, notebooks, pens, and a book bag. i had a second bin that held my athletic gear (swimming, running, and yoga) and a bag for carrying that.

i would leave the house at 6:30 am every morning, drive 45 minutes to the school, do my swim/bike/run, go to school, do another workout in the evening, and head home. once home, i would unload the gear bin (dirty duds out) using the bag, and then i would only have to bring that and my lunch out in the morning. and, i would pack that bag and lunch at night so it was no worries in the morning.

i also never studied at home as a policy. of course, this doesn't work for everyone. but, it worked for me. i was at the law school from 9:30 am until 4:30 pm and i would take my classes and study during that time. i was usually home around 7 (after work outs and all) and DH and i would have dinner. I would then rest, clean up, and gear up for the next day.

It is similar now. I know what i'm doing tomorrow, for instance. i know that i need to pack the following items to do that tomorrow. i know that i need to get up at this time. and i know what i am wearing. this way, tomorrow morning will run smoothly. we will leave on time. no stress, no mess. easy done.

so, start thinking about your values and your time, how you can arrange things so tha they are easiest for you. then you will feel more relaxed and everything will get done.
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Old 03-07-2010, 12:36 AM
 
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Well, I only have one child, and a Tahoe with lots of room, so that makes a big difference...but I have one of those center console trashcans with a lid( you can dump cups with liquid in it because it's waterproof) and in the sides I keep wipes and hand sanitizer. I can wipe down the front of the car as I get in with a wipe, before starting the engine. I usually do that once a week. My boy is only 14 months old and doesn't eat a whole lot in the car, so there are rarely those messes. About once a week on the weekend, I clean out the car, coats, mismatched socks, toys, books, things like that. And start fresh for the next week. I also take the car to a car wash about once a month and get a 20 dollar inside and outside car wash..they wash, vacuum and rainex and do the tires. 20 dollars well spent, I must say.

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Old 03-07-2010, 01:39 AM
 
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one is to assert certain behavior such as no messy snacks in the car.


Yeah, maybe when you have one young child, that works. In fact yeah, I do recall that working back then...

I just force myself to clean it when we get home. Trash out and vacuum in. It sucks, but I'm so much happier each time I get back in.

I make the kids take backpacks. "Keep your junk in your bag!" I have a big bag that I haul extra stuff for my two youngest ones.

Cold weather stuff is a whole armload inofitself, but what can you do?

And eating food? Yeah, they do that. And it doesn't have to be messy food in order for a child to make a mess with it. It's quite fascinating actually. Dh swears that children actually create crumbs from nothing - that they just 'shed' them.

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Old 03-07-2010, 02:06 AM
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to be clear, my son makes a mess with any food. but, i specifically choose foods that don't crumble too much (muffins) or squish too much (bananas) or are sticky-wet (juices). home-made energy bars and dried fruit are our norm. i have water in a water bottle (metal with a sport-top) for drinking. these are easier to clean up.

and, i don't see how having more than one child needs to change these policies. older children simply eat more dried fruit than younger ones. *shrug*
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Old 03-07-2010, 03:53 AM
 
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to be clear, my son makes a mess with any food. but, i specifically choose foods that don't crumble too much (muffins) or squish too much (bananas) or are sticky-wet (juices). home-made energy bars and dried fruit are our norm. i have water in a water bottle (metal with a sport-top) for drinking. these are easier to clean up.

and, i don't see how having more than one child needs to change these policies. older children simply eat more dried fruit than younger ones. *shrug*
Because teen boys will not eat just dried fruit on long trips, and eating out is pricey, so I make our food before the trip, or make sandwiches on the trip.

Also, you'd be amazed at how finicky a four year old princess can be about what she will and won't eat.

Oh, and the baby has severe allergies *and* toddler preferences. Bananas are actually one of her few 'in' foods right now - and if she doesn't get to nibble in her seat, then all hell breaks loose. Same for the princess. The boys just get moody if they don't snack, or worse yet, their humor takes a dive into bathroom territory as they get the teenager-hasn't-eaten-in-the-last-45-minutes-giddiness.
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Old 03-12-2010, 02:37 AM
 
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Ds and I commute to school 40 minutes each way. He eats breakfast in the car, reads, listens to cd's etc. Our carport is literally 300 feet from the house so the car is always a mess. Occasionally I treat us both to a detailing and I put washable covers on the seats. No food is not an option as breakfast provides something to do and a way to maximize his sleep time at home. I dream of a clean car and enjoy it when it is....but between all my teacher stuff and the commute requirements I am not sure how realistic it is.
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Old 03-12-2010, 03:12 AM
 
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No food in the car, water bottles are fine. Long trips are exceptions and we keep a trashbag in the vehicle for those times and for paper or tissue. I keep wipes in the car. The kids only get 1 toy, a magnetic doodle pad. I wash at the place that recycles thier water, once a month, twice if it gets really dirty from a road trip. I vaccum there too.

I take mail and fliers from school out the day we get them. Our car used to be trashed and this has worked great for us so far. The biggest thing is no food!
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Old 03-12-2010, 07:37 PM
 
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If you choose to not eat in the car (we stop and have snacks if we are on a long trip), and have a big bag for carrying things into the house after being out, it isn't that hard.

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Old 03-12-2010, 08:34 PM
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I was just asserting what we do as per the question asked.

And FWIW, as a mentor to teens, a big bro/sis volunteer to younger children, and a sitter for even younger ones on occasion before our own child, we still managed to institute this rule in our car with teens, tweens, school-aged, and pre-schoolers when driving around. Parents would provide snacks for the car that fit the parameters of our rules, or we would.

When we were on long trips (eg, my DH drove the teen he was mentoring on a 5 hr drive), we would stop every 1-1.5 hrs for bathroom and snack/food breaks. each break is 1/2 hr, and so it adds 1.5-2 hrs extra of travel time. We simply add this into the time we need to get there.

Of course, while on the drive, when the time came up for a break, we would ask if we needed to stop, and if not, would continue on and stop later if needed.

but, this is just what we do. what other's do is their own business.

we also both grew up this way. my parents had a no eating in the car rule--not even dried goods--and my ILs have it too. there are no snacks, no nothing, in the cars.
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:03 PM
 
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I keep a stash of plastic grocery bags in the car as trash bags and when I stop and get gas I do a quick once over collecting garbage and toss it. For the most part we don't eat in the car and I try to get to a car wash with a vacuum every couple months to suck up whatever has accumulated since the last time it got cleaned out.
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:12 PM
 
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I keep a small dust buster type vac by the door and grab it every time we leave the house. I spend 30 seconds vacuuming before we head out. I also do a more detailed detailing once a week. My 3 year-old likes to pretend to drive and is well entertained while I'm cleaning so its actually far easier for me to keep the car clean than the house.

ETA - We eat in the car and go to the beach a lot so there's always a lot of debris. I also have a convertible which makes it easier to climb around the interior and clean.
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Old 03-13-2010, 04:54 AM
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we often had leaf debris and mud from hiking! we would take a change of shoes and bags for the muddy shoes!
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Old 03-13-2010, 05:05 AM
 
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Zoebird reminded me, here in the wet PNW, I have winter car mats that are plastic and shake out for all the wet pine needles. In the summer, I use the stock carpet mats.

I am a little bit, uh...crazy? about car appearance maintanence. Did you know that a big kabuki make up brush is perfect for cleaning out the dust from the radio buttons? Or that Armor All is not good for the plastic surfaces in your car? Or that you can resurface your headlights for better vision with a magic eraser (if mild) or sandpaper and rubbing compound (if badly scratched). That a clay bar treatment will help keep your paint in best condition if used about once a year?

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Old 03-14-2010, 12:46 AM
 
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I forgot to mention (and experienced this today, so figured I'd add) - taking shoes off upon entry if they are muddy, and I empty things out of the car BEFORE I unbuckle the kids - I empty the car until I only have one trip worth left, then unbuckle them so we all go in together for the last time.

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